Google announced the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL earlier this week. The phones come with an impressive dual-camera system at the rear but compared to previous Pixel phones, the latest Pixels miss out on a major feature: unlimited original quality photo storage on Google Photos.
Google has offered unlimited original quality photo backup on Google Photos for up to three years with all its Pixel devices so far barring the budget-oriented Pixel 3a series. However, with its latest Pixel 4 series, the company is only offering unlimited storage space for photos in high-quality. That’s not particularly noteworthy since this is something that Google offers for all other smartphones and devices in the market as well.
Quite ironically though, Google offers free original quality unlimited storage for iPhone users — not officially but this is due to how Apple saves photos on newer iPhones. On iPhone 7 and up, Apple saves photos in HEIC format which takes up almost half the space of regular JPEG images. Due to this, Google does not bother compressing HEIC photos uploaded on Google Photos as this would cost it more in terms of resources and the end result will not be worth it.
Converting a photo to JPEG and then compressing it would still mean the image file size would be bigger than the original HEIC format thereby making the entire process moot.
Google does not mention this officially anywhere but you can confirm this by uploading HEIC photos from your iPhone and then downloading it again. Compare the file size of the downloaded image and the original image and you will see they are of the same size. If the photo would have been compressed by Google, the downloaded image would have had a smaller file size.